What is eclampsia?

Updated: Apr 18, 2019
  • Author: Michael G Ross, MD, MPH; Chief Editor: Ronald M Ramus, MD  more...
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Eclampsia, which is considered a complication of severe preeclampsia, is commonly defined as new onset of grand mal seizure activity and/or unexplained coma during pregnancy or postpartum in a woman with signs or symptoms of preeclampsia. [4, 5] It typically occurs during or after the 20th week of gestation or in the postpartum period. Nonetheless, eclampsia in the absence of hypertension with proteinuria has been demonstrated to occur in 38% of cases reported in the United Kingdom. [6] Similarly, hypertension was absent in 16% of cases reviewed in the United States. [4]

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